NAD Reviews Claims Made by Verizon for Google Pixel Telephone; Recommends Advertiser Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims

New York, NY – June 26, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Verizon Communications, Inc., modify or discontinue certain claims made in advertising for the Google Pixel telephone, including the claim “Exclusively at Verizon.”

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Verizon has partnered with Google in the sale and distribution of the Pixel, the first phone made by search giant Google. T-Mobile USA challenged advertising claims that included:

  • “Exclusively at Verizon.”
  • “The new Pixel phone by Google, exclusively on Verizon, the only next gen network that lets you get the most out of it.”
  • “…Verizon LTE Advanced delivers 50% faster peak speeds in 450 cities coast to coast…”

NAD also considered whether the advertising implied that:

  • Verizon is the only retail outlet where consumers can purchase a Google Pixel phone
  • The Pixel only works or works better on Verizon’s network
  • The Pixel has functionality that is only operational on Verizon’s network
  • Verizon’s LTE network is 50% faster than competing LTE networks, including T-Mobile.

As a preliminary matter, Verizon informed NAD that certain of the challenged claims were either modified or permanently discontinued prior to the initiation of the T-Mobile challenge, including:

  • “only on Verizon,”
  • “the only network that can power [the Pixel],”
  • “exclusively on the next gen network”
  • “exclusively on Verizon.”

NAD administratively closed the matter with respect to those claims.

NAD noted in its decision that Verizon is the exclusive partner of Google in the sale and distribution of Google’s Pixel phone and that the Pixel can’t be purchased from other wireless carriers. However, the Pixel can be purchased at other retail outlets. “[W]hile Verizon may be the only wireless carrier to sell the Pixel, it is not the exclusive seller of the Pixel – an inaccurate message that NAD determined was reasonably conveyed by the challenged advertisement,” the decision states.

NAD recommended that the advertiser either discontinue the claim “Exclusively at Verizon” or modify the claim to more accurately state that Verizon is the only wireless carrier from whom consumers can purchase the Pixel and avoid the implication that the Pixel is not available for purchase anywhere else.

NAD determined that the evidence offered by the advertiser was insufficiently reliable to support Verizon’s claim that Verizon has “… the only next gen network that lets you get the most out of [the Pixel]” and recommended that this claim be discontinued.  NAD noted, however, that nothing in its decision precludes the advertiser from promoting the deployment of its “next gen LTE Advanced network” in 450 cities coast to coast, and its performance capabilities with respect to Pixel’s Daydream Virtual Reality and other features.

Finally, regarding “peak speeds” claims, Verizon had argued that the claim “Verizon LEI Advanced delivers 50% faster peaks speeds in 450 cities coast to coast” was clearly self-referential to Verizon’s prior network peak speeds. NAD did not agree and concluded that the advertiser‘s evidence was insufficient to provide a reasonable basis for this claim.  NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claim.

Verizon, in its advertiser’s statement, said that “the commercial and claims in question have been otherwise discontinued in the normal course of business” and that, while it disagreed with NAD’s findings, it would comply with NAD’s recommendations in future advertising.

The company noted that it does not intend to appeal.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.